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The topic of High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) is often addressed by the media with a curiosity, if not gossip edge. It is natural, given the fascination that the idea of wealth exerts for some and, on the other hand, for others that of the disparity between those who have a lot and those who have almost nothing. However, this is, not only due to the quantity and specific weight of these clients, but also because the service model for IINWIs can be an enlightening benchmark on the evolution of the consultancy profession in the third millennium.
The Wealth of High Net Worth Individuals
As known, HNWIs, to be considered as such, must have a net worth of at least 5 million euros (the type of UHNWI – Ultra High Net Worth Individuals more than 20 million). There were 62.5 million HNWIs worldwide in 2021, up 5.2 million from the previous aid. They represent just over 1% of the population, but almost half of global wealth (Credit Suisse data, ed). In our country, where the overall wealth of households is equal to around 10,500 billion euros, it is estimated that the number of these super-rich ranges from 400 to 500,000 households, which own around half of the total national wealth, with an average 10 million euro of assets.
Spheres of Wealth Holdings
HNWIs have four major spheres of wealth holdings: business, real estate, financial investments, passions. Family businesses – it goes without saying that HNWIs often have businesses handed down from generation to generation – we can estimate that they account for around 25-30% of their total wealth. Another large area is that of real estate properties – a very Italian characteristic – which is estimated to be equal to 40-50% of total wealth. Third point: financial investments. These affect about 20-30% of the total. Here the instruments are different: from classic and listed securities, to alternative ones, up to shareholdings in unlisted companies, as in the case of investments in private equity or venture capital. In a smaller percentage, roughly equal to 5-10%, the assets linked to the passions of HNWIs can also be included in the overall wealth: luxury, art, collecting, etc.
Additional Needs of High Net Worth Individuals
In addition to these four categories of representation of overall wealth, when it comes to service to HNWIs, further needs related to these customers, no less relevant than each of the areas mentioned above, must also be considered: taxation, philanthropy and generational handover.
In order to administer their assets, the super rich must have a tax service capable of fulfilling the system of taxes, fees, laws and regulations which pertains to different classes of assets and can also refer to properties distributed in different countries.
HNWIs can also choose to devote themselves to philanthropy and charity initiatives in order to partially give back what they have received to the less fortunate. It is the so-called give-back. Suffice it to cite, for example, the case of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Lastly, there is the very topical issue of generational change. Statistics say that it is very rare for a company to go beyond the fourth generation, due to the divisions that can occur over the years between members of the family and the head of the family, who is often the owner and/or head of the company.
The Role of a Multidisciplinary Team
It is evident that a single consultant cannot take charge of all the architecture of skills needed to deal with all the areas of need mentioned above with the necessary depth of service. What to do then? In the USA for years now a new way of working has been established which seems particularly suitable for serving these customers: the multidisciplinary team.
From these columns, we have already addressed the advantages brought to the business by the team model, how it can create value for both the client and the consultant and its different possible configurations (horizontal or vertical). In the case of HNWI service, teamwork can be the most effective solution.
As we have seen, the needs of the super rich require a quantity of notions and knowledge (knowledge), which a single professional cannot possess. It is also a matter of being provided with skills and a hyper-specialization in ever wider and deeper quantities of investment products.
All this was unthinkable until a few years ago when the offer for HNWIs was limited to a few products. Add to this a whole series of no less important skills to satisfy the client in his requests for tax consultancy or support in philanthropic initiatives or planning and management of the generational transition.
Multidisciplinary Teams in Practice
In Italy, experiences of a multidisciplinary team for HNWIs have for some time been carried out by the private managements of the major generalist banks, in particular Intesa San Paolo Private Banking and Unicredit Private Banking, as well as, again quoting the main ones, by bank networks of financial advisors, such as Fidcuram, Banca Generali, Allianz Bank Financial Advisors and Azimut, as well as the Italian branches of international organizations: UBS, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan.
To create a successful multidisciplinary team, however, it is necessary to make an organizational and behavioral change. A benchmarking action can be particularly useful – think, for example, of the model of multi-specialist medical practices – aimed at identifying the key success factors of multi-specialist structures, such as for example the construction of a broad and deep offer and its effective promotion, also through digital channels.
Progress has been made with regard to the product package, even if it needs to be further rationalized and systematized, however there is still a long way to go in terms of processes and operating tools for a multidisciplinary team.